In 1963, I was a youngster in a grade school science class, when an instructor demonstrated that fish required oxygen through an experiment that diminished the O2 content of a fishbowl till the goldfish passed out. The instructor noted the efficacy of the experiment but said that he worried about the state of the fish and would try to find a more benign way to demonstrate the effect.
This was my introduction to Tom Bell (HCN, 8/30/10).
Now in my turn, I teach students, and I like what I see. My vintage colleagues are of a generation that sensed limits, strove to reduce litter and wanton environmental damage, and supported recycling. But these same people have been willing to stand by and claim disinterest or disbelief as the magnitude of their generation and mine's impact on the global ecosystem has become clear.
From mass extinction to the abrupt change in forest ecosystems resulting largely from warmer winters, my dear friends have denied culpability and shunned responsibility. Some of their spokespeople and organizations have deliberately obfuscated the issue of global-scale changes.
The young people get it, though. They have been born into a system fraught with flaws and challenges, and they know that they live in a world that may see social disruptions and migrations. Those who come to the United States, to Wyoming, to Fremont County, to Lander, will be the industrious, the committed, and they will build the new world that we hope for. I agree with Tom that many of our institutions are outmoded, dead and too stubborn to drop, but drop they will, and others will rise in their places. I take solace in knowing that an educated cadre is growing up carrying with them new knowledge, new tools. The same survival instincts and wishes for a better world that propelled us will serve them equally well.